Entertainment

With Honours

Robert Russell happy with national award nod

BY SIMONE MORGAN-LINDO
Observer reporter

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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IN the late 1960s when Robert Russell made the decision to channel his energy into the entertainment sector, getting a national award was the last thing on his mind. However, some four decades later, the co-founder of Reggae Sumfest is slated to be vested with an Order of Distinction — Commander Class for his contribution to Jamaica's entertainment industry.

The ceremony is scheduled for King's House in St Andrew on Heroes' Day, October 16.

“I was in London when I got the official call. I am very honoured to be receiving such an award. When I started out years ago, one never really thinks about getting honours in those days. We just wanted to know that Jamaica was the beneficiary of all my business endeavours,” he told Jamaica Observer.

Russell is a former chairman of Summerfest Promotions — promoters of the annual, one-week summer festival Reggae Sumfest. Started in 1993, it has attracted top international acts like Usher, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, R Kelly and Destiny's Child, as well as the finest reggae/dancehall artistes to its stage. Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Lady Saw and Capleton have made appearances.

Last year Russell sold Reggae Sumfest to American businessman Joe Bogdanovich of Downsound Records, but he still remains on the executive body as deputy chairman.

Russell is operator of Pier One, one of Montego Bay's most pulsating open-air, seafood restaurant, bar and entertainment centre since 1986. Prior to that he ran a hotel in Ocho Rios, St Ann, called Little Madness.

“This was one of the first all-inclusive hotels in Jamaica. We had folk singers by the pool and other live performances. We use to do advertisements in New York, where we would invite entertainers to vacation in Jamaica and they would perform at the hotel in return,” he said.

“We got over 350 applications and we selected 52 entertainers from the list. So we would have a live act for each week for a year,” he continued.

He also dabbled in film. He is credited as assistant director of Perry Henzell's cult classic The Harder They Come (1972), which stars Jimmy Cliff.

He had some words of advice to individuals aspiring for a career in the entertainment business.

“It is about setting a goal and keeping your eyes set on it. Strive towards your target and when you achieve that goal, move on the the next chapter,” he added.

In addition to Russell, the other arts and entertainment awardees are: Bunny Wailer (Order of Merit); Professor Keith Morrison (Order of Distinction — Commander Class); Copeland Forbes (Order of Distinction — Officer rank); Rosina Moder (Order of Distinction — Officer rank); Carlos Malcolm (Order of Distinction — Officer rank); Lloyd Stanbury (Order of Distinction — Officer rank); Ferdinand “Bobby Little Bra” Gaynair (Order of Distinction — Officer rank); Josey Wales (Order of Distinction — Officer rank); and Carl Bradshaw (Order of Distinction — Officer rank).

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